Sister Pauline Côté
“I have chosen to live in God’s house, I have chosen happiness and life”
October 17, 2016, Sister Pauline Côté,
in religion Marie-Noël
went home to God.
She was 86 years old and had been professed for 67 years.
Born in Coleraine, Quebec,
she was the eldest of the 20 children of
Arthur Côté and Mathilde Henri.
Pauline grew up in a small village in the Eastern Townships. Her father, travelling by bicycle, worked in the mine. Pauline went to the local school up until 5th grade but she preferred helping out at home. She was 9 years old when her father bought a farm, while continuing to work in the mine. With her family, she learned to work hard. She also learned to pray.
She said: “Some evenings, when I returned from school, the children were crying and hanging onto mama’s dress because they wanted to be rocked, so I would put my schoolbag down in the corner, I would sit with two children on my lap, and one on each side of me, on the arms of the rocking chair. They would hold onto my neck and we would begin to rock and the children would stop crying. At least during this time, Mama could work quietly.”
After supper, it was prayer followed by the rosary and Mama would have us pray for Papa to remain healthy and not run short of work.” On Sunday, they went to Mass in two carriages: the father leading the first and Pauline following with the second, proud of their horses!
When she was 15 years old Pauline wrote her letter asking to be admitted into the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. – She knew the Congregation through her paternal aunt, Jeanne, Sister Thérèse-du-Carmel. – The answer arrived: “Wait until you are sixteen years old.” Four months later, in January, the young girl arrived in Outremont. When she received the habit, she was given the name Sister Marie-Noël.
Sister Marie-Noël was already skilled in sewing, knitting, petit point and embroidery so she was able to be of service in many ways. But her main task for 16 years was as a refectorian for the students and the Sisters, and later as a cook for 18 years. She served with simplicity and dedication in our boarding schools in Waterloo, Hochelaga, Maskinongé, at Ste-Marie-des-Anges and Vincent d’Indy, and in our houses in Beauharnois and Goyer. When she arrived at the Motherhouse after a setback in her health, she worked for close to twenty years with the Sisters who were ill, cutting and setting their hair. At the houses in Sainte-Martine and Sainte-Émélie, she was active as both a receptionist and a hairdresser. Throughout all these years, Sister Pauline loved and appreciated her companions and gave of herself wholeheartedly. She summed it up in this way:
“I loved all the Sisters and found them to be gracious and affable. What helped me was my Bible, the ‘Office Book’, the “Prions en Église” (Mass booklet), meditating on the rosary, and days of recollection on which there was silent reflection…”
Sister Pauline was prayerful; her piety provided her with what was vital and expressed itself through serenity and trust. God was near.
After three years in our infirmary, where she had dedicated herself to a ministry of prayer, the One in whom she had placed all her trust and love would say to her: “Come, faithful servant”!